Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 24, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

INTELLIGENCE BASHING....Now that the war is over and we've all calmed down a bit, it looks like everyone wants to get in on the intelligence-bashing act. Here's the lastest from the Senate:

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is preparing a blistering report on prewar intelligence on Iraq that is critical of CIA Director George J. Tenet and other intelligence officials for overstating the weapons and terrorism case against Saddam Hussein, according to congressional officials.

The committee staff was surprised by the amount of circumstantial evidence and single-source or disputed information used to write key intelligence documents -- in particular the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate -- summarizing Iraq's capabilities and intentions, according to Republican and Democratic sources.

I don't have a problem with this as far as it goes. It's entirely possible that the CIA did a lousy job of assessing the situation in Iraq.

But at the same time it's almost beyond belief that Republicans, faced with a mountain of evidence they can no longer ignore, are trying to dig their way out of it by pretending that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld were just innocent dupes of a CIA gone wrong. "The executive was ill-served by the intelligence community," says Pat Roberts, chairman of the committee.

Is he serious? Do these guys really have the chutzpah to try and claim that Bush was genuinely unsure about Iraq and only decided on war after an agonizing session in which George Tenet convinced him he had to do it? There isn't a single soul in all of Washington DC who believes that.

On another note, I wonder how long Tenet can hold out? The pressure on him has been increasing steadily, and it seems pretty obvious that the White House continues to back him because they're afraid of what he might say if the pressure finally gets too intense. After all, if he gets bashed hard enough he might eventually cave in and tell the truth and that wouldn't a pretty sight, would it?

Kevin Drum 9:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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